It’s a concept that’s been brewing inside the mind of Curtis Horsburgh for a long time — creating an animation studio on wheels.
As a youngster, Horsburgh was drawn to Volkswagon camper vans. The idea of travelling on a whim seemed kind of cool.
But the 29-year-old, who recently moved to Victoria, eventually realized that if he wanted to produce animation on the road, he needed a lot more space than a camper van. Thus, the idea of an old delivery truck was born, which Horsburgh has now converted into a mobile animation studio/camper so he can draw wherever his heart desires.
“I don’t like being in one place too long. I have my drawing table in there so I can drive out to the woods and just do nothing but draw and camp for a month if I want to,” said Horsburgh. “The animation industry is so spread out. I could get a call from California so I can be there really quickly.”
Originally from Calgary, Horsburgh’s unique style of animation is beginning to make some waves. He was recently selected as one of six emerging animators nation-wide to participate in the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada’s renowned Hothouse mentorship program.
Now in its 11 season, the Hothouse program is a 12-week paid apprenticeship program for emerging Canadian filmmakers that has helped kick start the careers of some of Canada’s most acclaimed animators. The aim is to re-imagine ways of making animation that are faster, more flexible and celebrate the shortest of short forms while maintaining creative and technical excellence.
This year marked the first time participants were able to work remotely with the NFB’s Oscar-winning Animation Studio in Montreal via their nearest NFB production studio. The theme was “Found Sound 2.0” — a reboot of last year’s successful concept, in which audio clips found on the web were used as creative inspiration.
Horsburgh made his short one-minute film, Fyoog, in the bedroom of a friend’s home in Saanich. Using stop motion and 2D, Fyoog tells a story about a dream on a train, inspired by found sound of a Toronto subway car. The idea popped into his head in the middle of a yoga class.
“I thought of a kid sitting on a train with a window right behind him. I can show he’s dreaming and the whole thing just kind of made sense,” said Horsburgh, who built a puppet for the film that involved a variety of mediums.
“It’s super tedious, but you do get lost in it, especially when you play it back. You can see how the movement is working and learn a lot doing it.”
Horsburgh began drawing at a young age, but never thought he could turn his hobby into a career. He attended the University of Alberta in Edmonton for three years, studying mathematical physics for one of those years, along with film studies and psychology.
But it (mathematical physics) wasn’t fun, he recalled, and after a year-and-a-half he knew what he needed to do.
“I took a psychology class about perception and it totally blew my mind. It was all about how do you trick the eye?” said Horsburgh, who loves people watching.
“I’m totally in observation mode. When you are really studying something, you are seeing details that you haven’t seen before.”
Horsburgh describes his art as surreal and playful, and would like to do more work with the NFB in the future. His technique and new take on animation bloggery is presented on skrowl.com.